Seriously Irreverent Musings

Category: Drives and Events (page 1 of 5)

Fun Drives and Events

Flat Six Musings

As the percentage of Covid infected among us continues to drop, I have started to re-engage the outside world. A couple of weeks ago, I was worried that I was beginning to become an agoraphiac, as I had not driven my babies in quite some time. I wrote about it and received a nice rasher of shit from my Flat Six (AKA Porsche) cronies, telling me in no uncertain terms to get out and drive. And so I did.

Last weekend I met my friend Mark at the gas station, and then we went for a drive. It was pleasant. Nothing serious. Nothing twisty. Nothing fast. Just a nice drive up the coast. I was in my Cayman, and he was in his 911. Both of us were on our phones with each other, as being the yentas we are, we kibitzed as we drove. We did about 90 miles up and down the coast with a nice stop north of Malibu at Trancas for some coffee and muffins. It was great. It was just what the doctor, if not Eric Garcetti and Barbara Ferrer, ordered. It left me feeling less agoraphobic.

This weekend I decided to do it again. Only this time I went alone, and I drove my 89 Carrera, mainly because I wanted a more visceral experience. We are suffering through a fall Santa Ana wind condition, with daytime temperatures in the 90s and 100s. No matter, as I headed out early Saturday morning with the Targa top off and the hot, Santa Ana winds whipping through the cabin.

I was still not in the mood for a serious drive, so I did most of the same one Mark and I did last weekend, only this time I was not on the phone. Instead, I was focused on the drive, remembering what driver engagement is all about when driving a fully analog car without nannies like traction control, without power assisted anything, and without the dual-clutch automatic transmission that lurks in my Cayman. In short, my focus was on the tachometer, as I shifted my way up and down thru the gears, listening to the sound of the air-cooled flat six as it competed with the wind for my attention. There was not much else on my mind. At least initially.

At some point, driving became automatic. The wind and the engine sound became consistent background noise that soothed me but enabled me to start focusing on other things. Like the conversation I had had with my friend Nick earlier in the week.

Nick is a really smart guy. He is a young entrepreneur driven to be a success. He is also one of the most knowledgeable people I know with respect to world and economic events. We see eye to eye on almost every issue we face as Americans.

Given that we agree on so much, why do we continue to discuss the issues? The answer is simple: We are voting for different presidential candidates. So we discuss the issues to try to find the nuances that lead each of us to our distinctly different choice.

After much thought, I realized that it is not only the individual issues that drive our decisions. Instead, it is our prioritization of each of the issues and the implication of the solution to each issue that leads us to different conclusions, because ultimately it is what each of us fears the most that matters more than what we agree upon. That is why we keep discussing the issues.

The drive back was a blur, as I ruminated about Nick and life in America in 2020. Soon I was nearing the end of the drive on the coast, approaching the McClure Tunnel and the start of Interstate 10 eastbound.

It was time to shift my focus back to driving, but before I did, I though about Nick and our relationship. Nick and I respect each other. We value each other’s opinion and thoughts. We see value in our friendship despite differing political views. We will still have a relationship after all the votes are counted, whichever month that is.

I hope the same can be said for the majority of Americans.

Portia Kind of Guy

She’s here. Pam has been waiting for her for quite some time. I do not think Pam truly believed she would ever arrive. Nor do I think Pam thought she would be named Portia, especially as I adore that name. Of course, I may never spell it correctly. I mean, Porsche is close enough, right?

Our grandchild, Portia “Porsche” James Powell was born a couple of days ago. Pam has been in heaven ever since. To be honest, so have I. Maturity, mainly mine, has a way of making the little things in life so much more important and enjoyable.

Henceforth, Pam will be Grammy Pammy. Grammy has special significance in our family. Pam’s mom, Sandy, arguably one of the greatest grandparents of all time, was referred to as Grammy. That was her wish. She lived up to it in every sense of the word. Sadly, Sandy passed away much too early, leaving the Grammy legacy that Pam is ready and able to embrace. Pam will be as good a grammy as Sandy.

When the family asked me what I wanted to be called as I entered grandparentdom, I replied, “Gramps!” Then I thought about it some more, and realized that “Grumps,” was most likely more fitting, as on a really good day my glass reaches half empty. Normally it has a slight crack and the liquid just oozes out, making it tough to stay half empty. So I am Grumps, or probably, Grumpy, depending on the day. I do not care. I think it is great.

I spent most of the day working today. Pam left to go to Shelby’s some time ago. I needed to take a break and get away from work this afternoon. So I decided to drive over to Shelby’s, too. Fittingly, I opened the garage and backed my 89 Guards Red 911 Targa G-Body out and drove to Shelby’s, thinking how funny it was to be driving my Porsche to see Portia. It put a big smile on my otherwise grumpy face.

PJ Redux

As parents, we all remember the myriad of transitional objects to which our children bonded. Generally, the objects were used by our children to fill the void left by the natural lessening of the child’s dependence on the mother.

Our kids were no exception. Our older daughter, Shelby, had PJ, a stuffed rabbit given to her by my mother. PJ was named by its manufacturer, and the name stuck. Shelby kept PJ far longer than most transitional objects, as PJ actually attended Berkeley with her. PJ has resided with us, still a fixture in Shelby’s room, since she graduated from college 13 years ago.

Shelby is a thirty something woman now. She is over eight months pregnant with her first child, our first grandchild. We, especially Pam, are really happy to have a grandchild on the way. Pam’s nesting instinct seems to have resurfaced for the first time in thirty odd years, and she has been buying all the items we need for the nursery in our house. Items that seem to inevitably require assembly. Today we built the changing table. Next week it is the crib. Pam built our last crib. She did a great job, even though she was inside its four sides when she got it all together.

Though PJ has resided with us for the past 13 years, his memory still lives inside of Shelby, and his impact on her life continues to be felt. So much so that when she and Bryan were choosing names for their child, Shelby had two criteria. First, she wanted an alliterative first and last name. As her last name is Powell, she needed a first name that began with the letter P. Several family members talked to her about the potential abuse her child might endure going through life with the initials PP, but the warnings fell on deaf ears. Second, she wanted her child’s middle name to start with the letter J, as she wanted to call her child PJ.

Imagine that.

Maliburned Canyon

It’s been quite a while since I drove my 89 Carrera in and around Malibu. First, I got busy. Then I drove it to Rennsport in Monterey at the end of September. Then I got busier. Then its battery died. Then Malibu burned. Then I went to Australia. Then I got a new battery. Finally, on the weekend before Christmas, just about three months since my 800 mile jaunt to Rennsport and back, I had time to get the 911 onto the twisties above Malibu.

I began my drive early on Saturday morning with an easy ride up Pacific Coast Highway to Ollo to attend the PCA LA monthly breakfast. It was the last breakfast of the year and the turnout was great. The selection of cars in the parking lot was even greater, as there were GTs galore, including several 3s and 3RSs, a Carrera and a 2RS, which was somewhat unusual, even for Malibu. The lot also had a couple of McLarens hanging out with the Porsches. All in all, quite a display.

After a fun breakfast, it was time to drive. I had no intentions of hitting it hard. I just wanted to zone out on the backroads above Malibu. Somewhat morbidly, I also wanted to see just how beaten up the canyons were after the horrific wildfires in November. I had seen my fill of burnt landscape on the news, as we all did at the time, but I wanted to see it first-hand.

I headed north on PCH. Past Las Virgenes Canyon. Past Pepperdine University. Driving past beautiful coastal scenery spared from the ravages of wildfire. As I got close to Kanan Dume, random areas reflected the destruction caused by the fires. I did not see burned homes or structures, just a few splotches of darkened acreage.

I continued up PCH until I turned inland on Encinal Canyon, one of my favorite roads and one of the most scenic drives in the area. Normally when I drive Encinal, it is an adrenaline pumping, exhilarating experience, as I drive with a grin plastered on my face, with my engine screaming, with my windows down, and with my iPod cranking. This time was more than a tad different.

I did not grin. My adrenaline did not pump. My engine did not scream. Obviously, I was not exhilarated. Instead, I cruised in awe. The news coverage had informed me of the thousands of acres burned. But those were just numbers. Logically, I could interpret the scale of the event, but I really could not imagine it. That all changed during my drive, I just gaped at the scope of the destruction, the charred ground, the barren hillsides, and the remnants of burnt trees. A few times I had to not so subtly remind myself to look at the road, as I just kept staring at the hillsides.

My intent was to take Encinal to Mulholland Highway and traverse it past Kanan, head down the Snake, go past the Rock Store and then take Las Virgenes back to PCH and then head home. I knew that the fire had burned the terrain around the Snake, and though the fire had burned right up to the Rock Store, the iconic moto hangout situated on Mulholland, had survived. As I got to Kanan, though, I knew I had seen enough. I no longer had a desire to see more destruction. I just wanted to get home. So I omitted the Snake and the Rock Store, turned onto Kanan and headed back to the coast.

It was a somewhat somber ride home. I was lost in my thoughts, at times driving well below the speed limit, as I processed what I had seen. I could not imagine what it was like to live in the area or to try to fight the fire.

I did, thankfully, notice that there were pockets, tiny pockets, of green along the way. I tried to keep my focus on those pockets as I drove home.

Night and Day in Bondi

We are in an Uber heading to Coogee for another one of Kim’s scheduled walkathons.  This one will take us from Coogee to Bondi Beach.  It is Sunday, the day after our trek to Manly.  Kim has said this one is more like the mythical stroll along the bike path I fantasized about the day before.  Or at least that is what I inferred from our discussions at dinner last night.

Last night we Ubered to Bondi Beach for drinks at the Iceberg Pool and then dinner at North Bondi Fish.  It was excellent, and we had a good time.  The Iceberg pool is freezing, as it is filled with sea water.  It is one of the most magnificent settings for a pool that I have ever seen, as it juts out into the Pacific with waves breaking over its walls, threatening to swamp the swimmers.

But that was last night.  As we exit the Uber today, I am a little leery and more than a little sore.  Today’s walk is a paltry 8K on, as Kim assured me, paved surfaces.  The scenery in Coogee, at the start of the walk, is magnificent.

As we walk, we pass many beaches.  Kim, who vacationed here, in January, pointed out all the areas in which she has swum in the ocean and all the pools in which she has swum.  I couldn’t help it, but the image of the 60s movie, The Swimmer, starring Charlton Heston, flashed through my mind as she pointed out each of the locations.

Kim was right.  The walk was paved and, though we went up and down, it was pretty close to a jaunt down the bike path in Santa Monica.  Whereas the scenery on our walk from Spit to Manly had a nature preserve feel, the walk from Coogee was pure beach.  The scenery, in every sense of the word, was spectacular.  While not crowded, the path was full of beach people, from musclebound Muscle Beach types to families, with every other type in between.

Our plan was to walk to Bondi and then meet Kim’s friend, Anna and her brother, Joe, at Shuk Café,a local place for brunch.  Of course, Kim did not tell us just how far into Bondi we had to walk.  I assumed we would be eating in the touristy part of Bondi.  I was sorely mistaken as we continued to walk right past that area into the more residential areas surrounding the world famous beach.

As we walked, the weather changed.  We had bright sunshine while we walked to Bondi.  Once there, the clouds rolled in and we were splattered with rain drops.  We arrived before Kim’s friend and waited.  Judging by the crowd, Shuk, an Israeli restaurant,  was a popular destination.

While we waited we shared a couple of Danish, and I had a coffee, a long black, as the Aussies refer to an Americano.  The Danish were great, as was the coffee.  Soon, Anna and her brother arriced, and we were seated.  We had a great time.  The food and company were great.

Pam ate Teff pancakes, which she loved, Kim had scrambled eggs and toast, which she liked, and I had Sshakshuka, a new dish for me, that I really enjoyed.

We finished eating and Anna drove us to Watsons Bay, where we planned to catch the ferry to Sydney Harbor.  There had been some speculation that we might walk to Watsons Bay, but thankfully we were driven.

Watsons Bay is a cool little area.  We had drinks at the Watsons Bay Hotel prior to boarding a ferry to head back to Sydney Harbor.  While sitting in the hotel patio, we shared a table with a a couple of nice people and enjoyed our time there.  The ferry ride back to Sydney was fun.

A Manly Walk From Spit

As I stare out at the ocean as I sit on the ferry that just departed from Manly and is taking us to Sydney Harbor, I reflect on how Pam, Kimberly and I got here.  It was not easy.  Kimberly has been working in Brisbane since May, and Pam and  I flew to Australia to visit her.  This was our second day in Australia.  It felt more like our tenth.  I couldn’t even remember what I ate for lunch the day we arrived.  I was that tired.

As I have written about before Pam likes to walk while on vacation.  I like to sit on my butt.  Kim likes to walk even more than Pam does.    For months Kim and Pam have been planning our first few days in Australia.  Their planning did not bode well for me.

Yesterday was bad enough.  Pam and I landed in Sydney around 11 AM, and Kim met us at the airport, having flown in from Brisbane.  The rest of the day passed in a blur.  We walked about 18,000 steps all around the Sydney Harbor.  We ate lunch at a restaurant in the Rocks area.  We saw the bridge and the Opera House.  We toured the botanical gardens.  We drank beer at the bar just outside the Opera House.  I was jet lagged and had a sore foot, which I seemed to have injured before we left, and struggled to keep up with the two of them.

Today was tougher.  Last night we discussed today’s activities.  They involved walking, lots of walking.  Kim said it was about a 10K walk from Spit to Manly.  We were going to Uber to the starting point in Spit.  I was debating whether I would just drop them off and Uber to Manly, as I was questioning just how far I wanted to walk.

We spoke about it some more, and Kim intimated that I should start with them and then decide what to do.  I visualized a stroll down the Santa Monica bike path alongside PCH with access to facilities and Uber, should I want to bail out along the way.  I said so.  Kim, having completed the walk before, seemed to agree.  Or at least she did not disabuse me of my misguided notions.

As I sat in the ferry thinking about my conversation with Kim the night beofre, I felt that her lack of concrete information about the difficulthy of the walk bordered on elder abuse.  When I called her on it, she simply stated that she had forgotten the details.  I somehow doubt the veracity of that statement.

The Uber driver dropped us off in Spit.  I made a few jokes about salivating on the way.  We left the Uber, and began our walk by traversing the Spit bridge.  Once over it, we were on the edge of the water.  I quickly realized that any hope for a simple stroll down a bike path was a pipe dream.

Pam and Kim walked along the trail.  I plodded behind them.  I was still jet lagged.  My foot still hurt.  To top it off I was ill prepared for the walk.  I was not hydrated.  I was not carrying any water.  With all due respect to the Grateful Dead, I was not anaesthetized, as I was not living on reds, vitamin C or cocaine.  Instead, I was fueled with a couple of dollops of chocolate and some caffeine.  Not exactly good preparation for what I was experiencing on the walk.

I had planned for an Uber assisted stroll.  Instead I found myself in the middle of a 17,000 step, three hour walkathon with enough elevation changes to climb 35 flights of stairs over rocky, irregular terrain in a nature preserve.  Uber was not an option.  I would have needed to be airlifted to a place with roads and cell phone reception before I would have a chance to even request a ride.   I had been suckered into this, and Kim knew it.

Once reality set in, I settled down and focused on the walk.  Arguably, it was one of the most magnificent walks I have ever taken.  The scenery was amazing and the foliage was beautiful.  We climbed and descended.  At times we were amidst the trees with no view of the ocean.  Other times we walked across sandy beaches.  Unfortunately for me, the path was U shaped, and I could see our ultimate destination way before we arrived there, a destination that appeared tantalizingly close but stubbornly refused to get any closer with each step I took.

We met many nice people on the path  There were options to take side trips along the way.  We did not take them. The direct path was enough for us.  A trio of walkers, opting to take the detours and explore the various nooks and crannies,  passed us multiple times.  It  became quite a joke when they passed us for the fifth time.

Eventually, we made it to Manly, and after a trip to the tourist information kiosk we found ourselves ensconced at Hemmingway’s overlooking the ocean.

Manly is a great beach town.  It has a great vibe and lots of street vendors.  I found one that was selling a tee-shirt with an image of a hand painted 911 on it that made my day.  It also made the artist’s day, as I bought it.

Hemmingway’s was touristy but decent.  The best parts about it were the view and the shirts worn by the staff which had a sage Hemmingway quote on the back, reminding us to listen before we act, earn before we spend, and, most importantly, try before we quit.

While sitting on the ferry watching the sailboats, I mulled that quote over for a bit.  Soon  I realized that I had had a great day.  Great enough to almost forgive Kim for her blatant omissions.

May I See Your Visas?

Pam and I had just walked up to the Virgin Australia check in counter at LAX.  We were feeling pretty smug, as we were able to use the priority line instead of the one for schleppers, the one we normally use on our infrequent flights.  Pam handed the Virgin Australia representative our ticket information and our passports.  The representative then said,  “May I see your visas?”  Confused, Pam and I just looked at each other.

When it comes to travel, Pam is super organized.  I am useless.  When checking in, 99% of the time Pam responds with, “I have the information right here.”  This time she said, “We are only going to Australia for two weeks.  Do we need visas?”

The representative responded, “Yes.”  Pam and I looked at each other again, this time with a sinking feeling in our guts.

Our daughter, Kimberly, has been living and working in Australia for almost seven months.  She had visited the country twice before moving there, and we were en route to Australia to visit her.  Pam and Kim had planned the entire trip.  Throughout the process, Kimberly had never mentioned that we needed a visa just to visit the country.  They had discussed Kimberly’s issues getting an extended work visa at length, though.  Later we found out that Kimberly had applied for a travel visa before she went to Australia the first time.  Of course, she neglected to tell us about that.  Pam, and especially I, would discover that this would turn out to be the first of many of Kimberly’s omissions over the course of our trip.

After a brief moment of panic fueled by the fact that our plane was leaving in an hour, we asked, “How do we get them?”

The Virgin representative said that we could purchase them on-line for $20 each.  She went on to say that if we chose to do that we would have to leave the check in area, apply for the visa, and then get back in line once we had them.  She ended by saying, “I can do it for you if you want to pay $40 each.”  Obviously, we opted to pay double.

While we waited for her to finish our transactions, we noted with some morbid satisfaction that we were not alone.  Other travelers were purchasing visas, too.

We completed the check in process and headed off to our gate.  While we were walking, I was wondering about the other words uttered by the Virgin representative when telling us our gate number.  She had said, “It is a virtual gate.”

Pam did not hear her say that.  I did, but I am a clueless traveler, so I had no idea what she meant.  I would find out soon enough.

We had checked into terminal 3 at LAX, but our flight was leaving from the Bradley terminal.  We walked to Bradley, went through security then walked and walked to our gate.  Once there we found seats and waited.  Our flight was leaving at 11:00 PM. on a Wednesday night  It takes 14 hours to fly to Sydney, but we would not be landing in Sydney until Friday morning at 11:00 AM, after taking the 19 hour time change into account.

When we got to the gate we were happy to note that we had priority boarding.  I was still wondering what the Virgin representative meant by a virtual gate, as it looked normal to me.  We found out right after we started boarding.  Instead of going out the terminal, walking down a jetway and boarding a plane, we went out the door and were herded onto a bus configured like a tram.  I wondered how we were going to drive to Australia.  Then it dawned on me that any value we had from the priority boarding was gone, as many, many people were crammed onto the bus and it was unlikely order would be reestablished when we got off.

The Vrgin representative supervising the loading made very sure that the entire bus was filled to capacity.  It was so crowded that the last woman to board was not even all the way into the bus as the doors began to close with her backpack about to be caught between them.  I was standing near the door, mainly so Pam and I could exit in a heartbeat when we stopped.  The woman was unaware that her backpack was hanging out until I gently tugged it (and her) completely into the bus.

We were driven quite a long way across the airport, finally stopping at a building in the middle of nowhere.  We disembarked from the bus and walked up a long ramp, only to stop near the top.  We stayed there for about 15 minutes, wondering if we were in the right place and if we would ever board the plane.  Pam handles these situations better than me.  I was starting to get grumpy.  I was tired of standing and my backpack was digging into my shoulders.  Eventually, the line moved and we boarded the 777 to take us to Sydney.

We opted to fly Premium Economy, as we felt that Economy, aka Coach, would be too cramped and Business Class too expensive.  As we settled into our seats, which provided only a modicum more space that Economy,  I was beginning to wonder if the upgrade was worth it.  About 5 minutes later, just after our dedicated flight attendant, Alexandra, asked us if we would like a drink, I knew it was.

The flight was long, but very pleasant.  We landed in Sydney and met Kimberly, who had flown into Sydney from Brisbane, where she works.  From there it was a taxi ride into Sydney so we could begin our vacation  in earnest.


More Than The Street

For those of you who know me you would be wrong in assuming that my title, More Than The Street, relates to one of my somewhat infrequent visits to the race track in my Porsche.  Very wrong.

If you knew Pam was involved, you would know that it does not relate to anything having to do with automobiles, but you would have an inkling that it is related to something current.  I tend to live in the past.  One of my cars is 30 years old.  One of my watches, Pam’s late stepdad’s Omega Speedmaster, is 34 years old.  I wear it all the time, even though it requires winding every day.  Staying current for me is nice, but not a necessity.

If you know Pam, you know that she is all about being current, staying relevant.  Downtown LA is a happening place.  Until recently, our younger daughter, Kimberly, was living downtown.  Kim and Pam went to many of the fun, Instagram moment exhibits that pop-up downtown.  Exhibits like the Ice Cream Museum and The 14th Factory, among others.  They usually go together, and enjoy some great mother daughter experiences while staying current.

A new pop-up art exhibit, Beyond The Streets, opened in downtown recently.  The exhibit features street artists and street art.  Its tag line refers to vandalism—literally—as contemporary art.  Pam wanted to go, and as Kim is spending the year working in Australia, she invited me.

I freely admit to being underwhelmed by most 20th Century, or later, art, especially the pieces created after the Impressionism era, pieces that are defined by symbolism, cubism, futurism, or a host of other isms.  I look at them, and they leave me floundering.  I lack the insight and/or the ability to relate.  Because of that, I like very little of it.  I have been to the Broad a couple of times, most recently to see the Jasper Johns exhibit.  I just stare at most of the pieces.  Other than Warhol and some of the Pop Art stuff, I leave scratching my head in disbelief.  I have been to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  More disbelief.  I have been to the Picasso and Miro museums in Spain.  More disbelief, though I liked early Picasso works, before he got the blues.  I have been to the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  Even more disbelief, though I loved the building.

I am also usually politically incorrect.  I prefer labels that explicitly state the obvious, not labels that soften the impact of the words.  Sayings like vertically challenged, reality challenged and sex care provider also leave me scratching my head in disbelief.  Though I do chuckle when bribes are referred to as public sector bonuses.  As a result, I have never bought into the term Street ArtI just considered it a politically correct way to refer to Graffiti, which literally means writing or drawing on public or private property.  In short, vandalism—not something to which a suburban dwelling, middle class, unhip, reasonably irrelevant, curmudgeon-like boomer is going to appreciate or pay much attention.

I like hanging out with Pam, though, so I decided to go to the exhibit with her, not really expecting to enjoy it.  I knew nothing about the artists or their art.  I really had no idea that spray paint wielding graffitists had transcended from the street to the studio.  I really had no idea any of them had followings or showed their works in respected galleries.  But then I am not current.  Thankfully, Pam is.

Our older daughter, Shelby, and her husband, Bryan, joined us when we went to see the exhibit.  Shelby and Bryan are consistently current.  They do not even have to work at it.  But then they are millennials, and they are the current generation.  They know about street art and street artists, which helped me get into going to the exhibit.  It turned out that I did not need their help.

As I wandered around the 40,000 square foot exhibit curated by Roger Gastman, I shook my head in disbelief, not because I didn’t like it, but because I did.  There is no doubt that I will never fully understand or relate to street art.  I did not grow up with enough angst.  I do not have that “stick it to the man” mentality, which is necessary to really get into it.  The most rebellious I get is listening to country music in West LA.  Having said that, lots of the art, even the more gritty pieces, resonated with me.  For a brief time, I felt like Mikey in the infamous Life Cereal commercial.  The pieces resonated in a way no other modern art has.  I am not sure why.  I really do not need to know.  I just liked it.

No doubt that some of the pieces bordered on the type of modern art I do not like, but a lot of it was great.  I found the works of Kenny Scharf, Banksy, John “Crash” Matos, Eric Haze,  Faile (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller), to name a few, to be really interesting.  I expect I will be spending more time looking at and appreciating street art in the future.

Thanks to Pam, I am current for the moment.  Too bad it won’t last.


Pure Barre(d)

I should have known better.  Actually, I did know better, but that did not stop me.  I took a Pure Barre class with Pam Friday night.  It was a date night, sort of like 50 Shades of Grey was a love story—a painful one.

Pure Barre is Pam’s exercise regimen of choice.  It has been for the past couple of years, and she really rocks it, despite being one of the few baby boomers to take these exercise classes that are mainly filled with millennials the ages of our daughters.  She loves the workouts, which are based on the principle of using small, isometric movements, accompanied by a ballet barre, a small ball, light weights, and rubber straps, to burn fat, sculpt muscles and create long, lean physiques.  Pure Barre, a franchise of independent studios, also works hard to create a supportive community for its devotees that celebrates participation and achievements, having members sign ceremonial ballet barres representing workout milestones.  Pam has passed her 250 workout milestone and is well on her way to her 500 workout milestone.  I may never get to two.

Every six months or so, the Pure Barre studio in Beverly Hills, where Pam goes to take her classes, has a “Bring On The Men” class to which the regular attendees can invite their favorite member of the weaker sex to join them in a Pure Barre workout.  A couple of weeks ago, Pam asked me if I wanted to go with her.  I said yes, knowing full well that it was going to be a painful experience.

Generally, when I write about Pam, I refer to her as a saint, mainly because she is.  She is also tough—physically and mentally.  I do not know if she was born that way or became that way after giving birth to our two children and enduring me, and my quirky sense of humor, for the past 45 years, 38 of them as my wife.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that Pam likes the Pure Barre workouts because they are hard, low impact, full body workouts.  She literally works her ass off.

Pam and I do not usually workout together, though I have been invited to join her a couple of times.  Once for a boot camp class and another time for a series of Pilates classes.  Neither was a really good showcase for my talents, though I did do pretty well in the boot camp classes and eventually became somewhat proficient at Pilates.  I am a pretty fit guy.  I have been a cardio junkie for decades.  I spent time doing Triathlons in the late 80s.  I have run the LA Marathon.  I have competed in numerous ocean swims and bike centuries.  I have run with track clubs and swum with masters swim teams.  I still run, row and lift light weights five or six times per week.  Despite all that, and quite possibly because of all that, I had a pretty good sense of just how tough the Pure Barre workout was going to be and how unprepared for it I was.

I was more than a little apprehensive the week before the class.  I adjusted my workout schedule to skip Friday morning and was thankful that I was planning to have breakfast with my Porsche buddies Saturday morning instead of working out.  It turned out that those were really good ideas.

Pam and I arrived at the studio a few minutes before the class started.  The studio, owned by a delightful 30ish young woman named Jill, feels like a day spa.  Its ambiance is soothing.  Its decor is soothing.  Its smell is soothing.  It has the de rigueur ballet socks and workout attire for sale.  It has cute little cubbies to store your stuff while you sweat.  It has innocuous implements of destruction, including the aforementioned small rubber balls, light weights, and rubber bands.  And it has a deceptively pleasant looking studio with mirrors and ballet barres on three walls.  It is the perfect place to get your butt kicked.

Pam introduced me to the instructor, Katie, another 30ish young woman with the face and demeanor of an angel, though she wore a microphone on her head instead of a halo. I nervously found a spot on the floor, feeling thankful that I was not the only guy there, feeling a little better that I would not be the only one to suffer.  The workout started a few minutes later, and for the first five or so minutes I rocked it, just like Pam.  Then the instructor calmly said the warmup, which I survived and felt was hard, was over.

The instructor proceeded to lead us through a complete body workout over the next 45 minutes or so.  Pam worked out the entire time, doing all of the exercises really well.  Generously, I think I  was able to complete 25% of them.  I spent the remainder of the time either trying to figure out what to do, how to get my muscles to actually move as the instructor requested, or how to stop my muscles from cramping if I did perform the requested movement.  Needless to say, I was shvitzing, not to mention quivering, when the workout ended.  I had no idea that three pound weights in each hand could be so heavy.  I had no idea that standing on my toes could be that painful.  I had no idea how a little rubber strap could cause so much muscle pain.  I do now, and I am not alone.

After the workout, we gathered for a group picture, had some beer and laughed at the general ineptitude of the guys in attendance.  It was all in good fun, and we all enjoyed the experience.  Pure Barre is a helluva workout, one I should probably voluntarily do once in awhile but probably won’t.

As I write this, it is Sunday morning about 36 or so hours since I was Pure Barred.  Pam just returned from her third Pure Barre class of the weekend, feeling great, having taken morning classes on Saturday and Sunday.  I spent Saturday morning resting at the Spitfire Grill at the Santa Monica Airport, swilling coffee and stuffing my face with a mondo breakfast burrito laden with eggs, cheese, bacon and hash browns.  I spent Sunday morning running one of my normal routes, though it took me several minutes longer than usual as I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to flush the lactic acid from my muscles, the majority which still ache.  Like I said, I should have known better, but I would most likely go back if I am invited again.


Cinco de Drivo

A great drivo and a little drinko.  A perfecto way to celebrate the May 5, 1862 Battle of Puebla!!!!  Ironically, it’s celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico.  Yes, in the United States it’s better known as Cinco de Mayo.  Yes, my PCA buddies and I went for a drivo.  Yes, we then met in Santa Monica at El Cholo for some food and drinko—all before noon.  But, hey, at least we drove first, and it was five o’clock somewhere.

It’s been several weeks since I had my 89 Carrera on the twisties.  And it’s been many weeks since I had it out on one of my favorite roads, Mulholland Highway.  My drought ended this morning when I met my PCA Los Angeles buddies for a spirited drive along Mulholland and then a beautiful cruise down Pacific Coast Highway before stopping at El Cholo for brunch, either liquid or solid or both.

I have been too busy to drive for fun lately.  Pam and I were away.  Then I had to go to Luftgekühlt—yeah, I know, poor, poor pitiful me—which was tons of fun to be at but the drive was on freeways, not twisties.  Then I had other stuff to do.  Then I began to work on a project that requires lots of commute time, which I do in my Cayman.  But not today.  Today, it was drive time.  Today, it was 89 time.  Today, it was Malibu time.  And I smiled all morning.

This was a pretty simple drive.  We met at Gelson’s in Woodland Hills on Mulholland Highway.  We drove on Mulholland.  We drove on PCH.  I left before the group, hoping to get to a decent place to stop and take some pictures of the rest as they raced by.  Unfortunately, my plan fell apart.  Before I found a suitable spot from which to shoot, the lead group, let by my buddy David, was on my rear bumper.  David was leading a group that I can hang with when I am in my Cayman.  When I am in my 89, I don’t even try.  After I found a spot to pull over and let them by, I thought I would have a few minutes to find another spot from which to shoot before the next group on the road caught me.  I was wrong.  The gap between the groups, which was supposed to be at least five minutes, was about 20 seconds.  I could hear them coming up behind me while I could still hear the the lead group screaming away from me.  At that point I knew pictures were not in the cards.  I just inserted myself into the middle of the next group and focused on driving, which was really nice.

I had the oldest car out there today.  It has the fewest driving aids.  And the fewest horses.  But it is lighter and nimbler than the newer models so I can still keep up on shorter radius turns, which are prevalent on Mulholland.  I was maintaining contact with the group, but tenuously.  Suddenly, I reeled them back in.  I figured they came up on a group of bicyclists.  I was shocked when we finished the penultimate turn running up the Snake and saw a Model T lumbering around the last turn.  Unbelievable.  Only in LA.

The group crossed Kanan Dume and headed out towards Decker Canyon then dropped down to PCH.  My tolerance for Decker is just a little more than my tolerance for Yerba Buena, which is also in Malibu and which I call Yerba No Bueno,  So I bailed on the group and headed down Kanan to PCH feeling relaxed, refreshed, happy and windblown, as my Targa top was off. The ride down PCH was great.  The sun felt good.  The wind felt good.  Most importantly, the ocean smelled good.

We all met up at El Cholo and had a great time eating, drinking, swapping wildest turn, I mean biggest fish, stories and celebrating the Battle of Puebla.

Older posts

© 2021 HCAYMAN

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑